It came around like it has for the past few years. Canberra’s offering to the big sacrificial pyre that is the Australian festival season. And just like that $150 budget you set yourself, Spilt Milk came and went in a flash. It honestly didn’t feel like a festival, there wasn’t that certain something in the air. Maybe it was because Childish pulled out with weeks to spare, leaving you with headliners that were less about who you wanted to see more, and more about who you’d previously seen less. Sure, we didn’t run out of food this year, but I could hear myself singing in the front row. The lines for a drink were mercifully short, but the line for the toilets was like driving along Fury Road.
You take the good with the bad at a festival, and since the majority of us did enough damage to our livers and prefrontal cortex’s at pres, it didn’t really matter. Long line up for the pisser? Time to make some new friends. You can year yourself singing? Fuck it, you sound like Beyonce anyway. Childish Gambino isn’t headlining? Damo said he was shit live. Festivals do that to us. In their essence, they are gruelling shitshows that physically and psychologically scar us for weeks to come, but we counter that with a hedonism that would make the Romans proud. It’s easy to say, “Fuck it”, when you look good, and you feel good, and you’re surrounded by like-minded people. As the saying goes, “There’s no use crying over spilt milk”.
But then we get down to the Ugly, and some festivals dish that out in spades. I’ll give it to the organisers, they’ve put the fake tan and glitter on this festival, and it looks damn pretty. A dollar off a drink for each can given in stops the place looking like that plastic island floating in the Pacific when we’re done with it, and watching Hayden James from the hill at Commonwealth Park at sunset with the lake and the bats and the lights. God damn, just god damn! But the ugly always leaks through. Festival organisers have already decided to apologise for YG’s set. That one was jarring. Festivals manifest their ugliness in a bunch of different ways, but this one was front and centre, suspended upon shoulders and the main stage for all to see. And we didn’t like what we saw. Spilk Milk gave us enough good to overlook the bad, but it seems the ugly still has its part in Aussie music festivals.